A Victorian independent school

Lisa Summers and Shirley Kutin pose at school

Independent school develops a whole school approach to supporting students on the autism spectrum

Lisa Summers and Shirley Kutin are education support teachers at Hume Anglican Grammar School in Mickleham, Vic (north of Melbourne). The school offers educational placements for 669 primary and secondary school students living in surrounding areas. A number of students at the school have a diagnosis of autism and as with most schools, many others display at least some of the characteristics of autism.

The situation

Shirley and Lisa intuitively knew that improved relationships with open, direct and positive communication between the school’s teachers and families of children on the autism spectrum would lead to better outcomes in the classroom. Before Positive Partnerships, parents were much more likely to bypass classroom teachers and approach the education support team when they needed to communicate concerns about their child. This often meant that the classroom teacher had limited involvement in the process of deciding on a course of action. Also, more effort was directed at addressing concerns than to planning and developing proactive approaches to supporting students. Shirley and Lisa simply wanted their colleagues to be better equipped through an understanding of the strengths and needs of individual students on the autism spectrum.


I am a parent of a child who has autism spectrum disorder. My son was very anxious about making the transition to year 7. Lisa Summers and Shirley Kutin from the Education Support Department at Hume Anglican Grammar were very supportive. In term 4 they came to visit my son's grade 6 teacher and his aide to gather information to help to get to know his needs and assist him with his transition to year 7 the following year. They also organised a school visit for him during the holidays, which helped to lower his anxiety and help him to get to know his way around the school. I was also sent an e-mail with photos of all of my son's teachers so he could see what they looked like and a copy of his timetable. Lisa and Shirley were a great help to my son and I appreciate everything they have done for him.’    Parent: Mrs K Bruno